Networking in the past: the role of social capital in the success of the neoclassical painter and educator François-Joseph Navez (1787-1869) in nascent Belgium

01 January 2023 → 31 December 2026
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Development of methods and techniques
    • Cultural history
    • History of art
    • Library and archival heritage
  • Social sciences
    • Sociological methodology and research methods
History of Belgium historical social network analysis 19th century art history
Project description

Networking is important, also for an artist in the 19th century. François-Joseph Navez (1787-1869), director of the Académie des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles and a neoclassical artist, developed an impressive social network in nascent Belgium. Despite the knowledge we have of Navez’s paintings and his role in supporting the development of a newly forming nation-state through his role as director at the Brussels Academy, we have little knowledge on how his network played a role in this success. Even today, the focus of Brussels 19th century art research is largely based on the artistic output, and not on understanding or explaining an artist's position in relation to social-political factors. As we want to investigate how Navez’ social interactions had an impact (i) on Brussels art education in the 19th century, (ii) on his success at the Brussels Académie (1831-1862) and (iii) on his position as maître in his studio (1824-1849), we will examine Navez' social networks via correspondence archived in the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR). Therefore, we will develop a computational framework to digitize, generate machine readable text, and identify networks in historical data. Through this Digital Humanities approach we can map the impact of Navez' network of social capital on the evolution of Art Education in Brussels. The results of this social network analysis will show how networking influenced the 19th century art history of Belgium.